Governor Chris Christie is busy making the media rounds promoting his 10 percent across-the-board income tax cut for all New Jerseyans over the next three years.
Christie recently recorded a one-minute radio ad set to begin airing Monday saying failure to enact the $32.1 billion budget he proposed last week would imperil what he calls the “New Jersey comeback.”
“I need your help,” Christie appeals in the ad, “Tell state Assembly leaders to pass our budget, pass the 10 percent tax cut and keep the New Jersey comeback going.”
The advertising campaign is paid for by the Republican State Committee and even has the telephone number for Assembly Democratic offices in Trenton where the Governor urges residents to call them directly.
The “substantial ad buy” will place the radio spot on airwaves across New Jersey, Philadelphia and New York markets for several weeks.
Before the November legislative elections, Christie, who many political strategists believe has his sights set on the 2016 Presidential election, collected a cache of out-of-state donations for the GOP.
According to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, the Republicans had pooled $539,005 as of Jan. 1.
Defending his 10 percent across-the-board tax cut plan, Christie explained he is able to cut taxes now, because he believes New Jersey’s “fiscal house is in order," and counts on tax revenue increasing by 7.3 percent, the most since before the recession hit in late 2007.
But New Jersey Democrats, who control both houses of the state Legislature, call Christie’s plan unfair because it will only favor the wealthy and will ignore the Garden State’s property-tax burden, the highest in the nation.
According to the state Department of Community Affairs, an average homeowner’s tax bill is about $7,759 in 2011, up 2.4 percent from 2010.
And it appears Standard & Poor's Rating Service seems to agree the stakes are high and the Governor's projections are a bit sanguine.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, an S&P report issued on February 24th states that the Governor’s proposal is not structurally balanced because it states it is built on “optimistic” economic-growth projections, where the budget depends on using $288 million of reserves, which will increase the state’s reliance on one-time revenue to $1.6 billion.
While New Jersey revenues might rebound as reported by Reuters, partly due to its progressive income tax rates, John Sugden-Castillo, S&P credit analyst, said in the report, "In our view, the economic assumptions that underpin the state's revenue forecast appear to be optimistic based on current and projected economic conditions at the state and national levels."
In direct response to the S&P report, New Jersey State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Aristoff stated Christie, “has an unbroken record of creating responsible, balanced budgets without tax increases that have been built on solid, conservative revenue estimates.”
In the radio ad, Christie points to record funding levels for public schools and universities and a 2 percent cap he placed on property-tax growth as proof he’s taken on those issues saying, “We can cut wasteful spending, cut taxes 10 percent and fund our priorities.”
Under New Jersey’s 1947 Constitution, the Governor and lawmakers must adopt a budget that balances revenue and spending by the July 1 start of the fiscal year.